Where did our modern notions of sexual identity originate? How was the traditional relationship between the sexes challenged during the early 20th century? These questions and more are the foundations of a stunning exhibition at the Belvedere in Vienna.
Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and Oskar Kokoschka were undoubtedly three of the most outstanding painters of Viennese Modernism during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In their own unique styles, each artist was, and is, known for their artistic research into the “woman question,” producing provocative works that commented on sexual liberation and sought to escape moralist taboos. On view now at the gorgeous Belvedere in Vienna, Austria, “The Women of Klimt, Schiele and Kokoschka” presents a tantalizing view of how each artist individually navigated the “woman question” through a world-class collection of masterpieces. The museum also “provides insights into the relationship between the sexes in the early 20th century, elaborating on the origins of modern sexual identity.” 
Klimt’s “Goldfish” of 1901-1902 is a highlight of the show and a sight to behold. In a strong, slender vertical format, the viewer finds three nude female subjects among a gorgeous arrangement of abstract, organic lines, colored patterning, and gold leafing. The main subject, located at the bottom, faces away from the viewer but turns to look over her shoulder at the viewer with an inviting gaze. Her brilliant orange hair instantly becomes part of a yellow form –- reminiscent of a goldfish. Moving up the picture, the second female subject again faces away from the viewer, her profiled face barely visible. Finally, the third figure occupies the upper-right corner, facing the viewer and peering outside towards our position. The expression, range of patterning, and color are truly revolutionary and absolutely unique.
“The Women of Klimt, Schiele and Kokoschka” opened on October 22 and will be on view through February 28.
To learn more, visit the Belvedere.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for freeclick here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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